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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Reviews    Music Reviews and Discussion  ›  Sony Extended Copy Protection Controversy
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  Author    Sony Extended Copy Protection Controversy  (currently 3718 views)
R.E._Freak
Posted: December 9th, 2005, 1:06am Report to Moderator
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Sony is in monumentally deep s**t.

There is no other possible way to describe the troubles facing Sony in the past few months. When the US Department of Homeland Security issues a direct statement warning Sony against the obvious security issues regarding software they are using, you know there is a serious problem. Who would have guessed that new Our Lady Peace CD sitting on your shelves could pose a serious security risk.

Unfortunately, this has become the case. You may or may not know this, but over the past few months Sony has faced growing legal troubles regarding a controversial software they used on a number of their CDs. Dubbed XCP, short for Extended Copy Protection, the software is a hidden application that automatically downloads to your system upon accepting the (3,000 word) End User License Agreement on the CD. Now, downloading unknown software is bad enough. But it doesn't end there.



Tech blogger Mark Russinovich revealed in posts on his website just what Sony was using for this software. You may have heard of rootkit programs. Recently they have come under fire for illegal use in online games like World of Warcraft, due to their near impossibility to track and irradiate. That should be a warning right there. Sony hired a UK based computer company to design this software, using the same rootkit tools hackers use to gain access to your system through malicious Trojans and spyware.

The infection (it is officially an infection now) was so bad that Microsoft, Symantec (Norton Antivirus), Apple, and the US Government (among others) have dubbed it everything from spyware to a Trojan to an out and out virus.

This software apparently tracks both your listening habits and IP address, sending this information back to Sony, allowing them to literally track your music movements. All this while restricting the play options of the CD. That would be bad enough, but to make things worse not only does the software cause major system errors (such as crashes, deletion of random files) but it opened your computer to numerous security risks. Upon attempted deletion (which, technically according to the wording of the EULA, is illegal despite it being an obvious breach of the same agreement) there were cases where it would actually disable your CD drive.

Sure sounds like a malicious file to me, Sony.

For a while they refused to comment, offering a free patch and uninstaller on their website. All the patch did was unhide the software. That's right, the files were hidden files located in an irremovable folder within your system. Rather than solver any problems it actually opened computers up to a host of new security issues.

The same could be said for the uninstaller. However, to get it you actually had to ask Sony for permission. That's right, you had to ask a company for permission to remove the hidden spyware software that THEY secretly downloaded to your system. First you were required to fill out a form and send it in, with simple information like where you got it and the name of the CD. It also required your email address, which according to them would be given to third parties who would be free to contact you directly. And you had no choice. If you didn't provide a valid email you wouldn't get the email.

Not that it contained the uninstaller. It contained the patch, and information on how to get the uninstaller. Even had you received the uninstaller, reports varied in terms of damages. Most agreed that it opened your system up to even MORE risks. Skilled hackers were able to use the uninstall protocols to instantly access computers. Amazing how the hackers move faster than the company. Maybe they should consider hiring these people, instead of punishing paying consumers. But that's just me (and millions of other consumers). Who listens to me (and the millions of consumers). And even then, it didn't actually uninstall the program. You heard that correctly. You are forced to jump through hoops to give out personal information to unknown third parties and open your computer to even more security risks.

As another interesting note, the files would also not work on the Apple iPod. Apple is major competition for Sony, so that looks like a pretty obvious attack. So, Sony has decided that they're not going to play fair. I thought there were laws to make sure companies could compete in a fair and balanced marketplace? Isn't this was Microsoft is always getting into trouble for? If nothing else, they should be investigated for this as well. I don't care what they say, I have never had any trouble loading files into iTunes for upload to my iPod. They can say what they want, personally I think it's just them trying to divert attention from their own actions and lay blame on someone else entirely.

This was several weeks ago.

These past weeks Sony has not issued a formal apology for the troubles. They have, however, issued a full North American recall of ALL discs with the XCP software, have an east to find uninstaller in a prominent place on their website, and are offering free shipping and replacement CDs (either CDs in the mail or MP3 files through email, both completely unprotected). None of this at any cost to anyone. All production of the XCP CDs has halted, and new discs will be released sans infection.

Yes, it is officially an infection, according to everyone except Sony who have yet to make an official statement regarding this. Why, then, with such a mass recall do millions of these discs remain on store shelves? Because most stores don't even know about the recall. Many don't even know about the issue itself! How can they hope to accomplish ANYTHING at all with such a blanket of ignorance covering every bloody person involved?

Supposedly, while this infection is localized in the US only, over 40,000 cases have been reported in the UK. Which isn't quite as high as the supposed 2.1 MILLION infected units purchased in the US. Also somewhat interesting is the fact that, mere weeks after having announced that they had released the discs in the US only, over 120,000 units in Canada are confirmed to have the XCP program. Sony is doing a real bad job of keeping track of things. Each week there seems to be something new contradicting their official statements. Where is the next batch going to pop up?

A number of class action lawsuits have been filed in various places around the US, and more are expected to follow. In Texas, for example, because of new spyware laws and the sheer number of infected computers, Sony could stand to lose upwards of $100,000 per computer. With the estimated 2.1 million infected units sold in the US, they could stand to loose in the double digit billions if these lawsuits go through. At $100,000 a computer, even if half of the units result in a lawsuit it would cost Sony upwards of ten billion dollars. Because of the EULA multiple computers could not be used, so chances are there won't be many more infections than units sold. However, accurate numbers can not be confirmed because of the nature of the infection.

And all of this coming right before the launch of Sony's newest console, the Playstation 3. A MAJOR console release, and a massive move for Sony, and now they are facing losses in the billions depending on how things go. Not only does the Playstation 3 face losses, but consider that Sony is a major supporter of the Blu-Ray format, currently up against HD supported by Toshiba. How big of a hit will that format take if the major supporter is involved in such a massive controversy such as this? I can't help but wonder how much this will shake the confidence for a digital disc format they are the major supporters for. Bad move, Sony. In the realm of bad moves, this is one major son of a motherf**k up. I am talking so big the executives had better start redeeming themselves via falling upon blades. It will undoubtedly have major repercussions on copy protection and the RIAA involvement in digital music rights in the coming years, and lord knows what will happen to Sony.

Some links relevant to this issue:
List of Compact Discs with XCP
Information on Extended Copy Protection (XCP)
Mark Russinovich's Website -- Includes link to his blog where the story first surfaced.
Information on the Sony Controversy -- Includes external links to relevant websites regarding this issue.
Electronic Frontier Foundation -- Have had some major coverage and articles.
Boycott Sony Blog
Canadian Discs with XCP
Official Sony Uninstaller
Information About the Uninstaller (from Mark Russinovich's Website)
Description of Trojan rootkit

Thanks to theprodigalson for some of the links.

Revision History (5 edits; 1 reasons shown)
R.E._Freak  -  December 9th, 2005, 1:05pm
Added information about Canadian CDs with XCP.
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MacDuff
Posted: December 9th, 2005, 1:17am Report to Moderator
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Yes, they are in deep, deep, doo-doo. The average consumer is so on edge right now in a paranoid world. Sony may have a BIG issue trying to weasel themselves out of this one.

When I heard about the issue, I checked the CD list over and I don't personally own any of the CD's listed, but I know a few people who own the Our Lady Peace CD...

Will be interesting to see what transpires with this!


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bert
Posted: December 9th, 2005, 1:23am Report to Moderator
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Damn, Freak.

Why not tell us how you really feel?


Hey, it's my tiny, little IMDb!
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theprodigalson
Posted: December 9th, 2005, 1:24am Report to Moderator
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Maybe if they just gave in and said eff it to file sharing,which isn't that big a deal, i mean movies i can see getting ticked on, but single music files isn't that big a deal.

my chritmas list now says...

dear santa,

all i want for christmas is for you to take all the recalled items and (censored)

thank you

love,

lil billy baxter

Ps. i still want my ten speed

pps. make it red

ppps. no blue.

Sony is screwed.

say it with me now... "Sony is the suck"
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W
Posted: December 9th, 2005, 9:02am Report to Moderator
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Got a list of Cd's and programs that this is in because I think that i have this stuff on my PC... Recently all my stuff has been acting up and randomly deleted 5 gigs worth of downloaded stuff (Illegal, Legal... I'm Canadian that law isn't up here yet) Anyway it also deleted stuff I needed and most importantly I cannot get rid of these pop ups and anonymous virus warning that when I click them they install spybot (A program made by the same people who make the rest) This sounds like the problem I'm having, things deleting, stuff not working and all.

I just looked at the list and I have Switchfoot Nothing is Sound ha-ha damn and I think it might be why my PC is like this too.


Practice safe lunch: Use a condiment.

Revision History (2 edits; 1 reasons shown)
W  -  December 9th, 2005, 9:09am
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theprodigalson
Posted: December 9th, 2005, 9:12am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from W
Got a list of Cd's and programs that this is in because I think that i have this stuff on my PC... Recently all my stuff has been acting up and randomly deleted 5 gigs worth of downloaded stuff (Illegal, Legal... I'm Canadian that law isn't up here yet) Anyway it also deleted stuff I needed and most importantly I cannot get rid of these pop ups and anonymous virus warning that when I click them they install spybot (A program made by the same people who make the rest) This sounds like the problem I'm having, things deleting, stuff not working and all.

Any clue what specific stuff has this because I've bought a few Cd's lately that may or may not be from sony.


first let me say, i so love you canadians...you ROCK!

second, wikipedia(sp?) and a few other sites have links to a list of stuff, but what you have doesn't sound like this,infact it reminds me of a virus i had on my family computer during the summer, i forget what it's called though. (sorry)

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W
Posted: December 9th, 2005, 9:27am Report to Moderator
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I've since modded my post to say that yes I do in fact have one of the infected CD's... Can anyone say Wesley King of The Posts vs. Sony?

Can anybody say $ Dollar Dollar Bill Yall

But really I need to get rid of this garbage they screwed into my system without deleting everything and reinstalling everything that i've spent so long to get back. I can save it but this stuff takes forever to configure, reboot, install, download.

I wish Sony and the PS3 a fairly average launch and too lose billions in the process because this is the most ridiculous shit ever. I have to disconnect my internet now because if I leave it on I get pop ups and installs like you'd expect from a second rate company like sony.

They produced a Tom green rap album... I mean I should have seen this coming.


Practice safe lunch: Use a condiment.
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theprodigalson
Posted: December 9th, 2005, 9:34am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from W
I've since modded my post to say that yes I do in fact have one of the infected CD's... Can anyone say Wesley King of The Posts vs. Sony?

Can anybody say $ Dollar Dollar Bill Yall

But really I need to get rid of this garbage they screwed into my system without deleting everything and reinstalling everything that i've spent so long to get back. I can save it but this stuff takes forever to configure, reboot, install, download.

I wish Sony and the PS3 a fairly average launch and too lose billions in the process because this is the most ridiculous shit ever. I have to disconnect my internet now because if I leave it on I get pop ups and installs like you'd expect from a second rate company like sony.

They produced a Tom green rap album... I mean I should have seen this coming.




Ok so i was wrong, ah well.

i have been reading some stuff on this and so far have seen the olny way to get rid of it is to reinstall. people have tried the patch but to no advil or there system crashes after. pretty much,your effed.

But hey, sue them and get your one hundred thoushand dollars (that would be about $50,000, after you cash it in canada. sorry i love canada and the canadians but couldn't help myself )

i was reading about the lawsuits,even if olny half get through will cost them in the billions.

i'll do some more reading and see what i can come back with, not much elese i can do when it's snowing.

Revision History (2 edits; 1 reasons shown)
theprodigalson  -  December 9th, 2005, 9:37am
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theprodigalson
Posted: December 9th, 2005, 9:46am Report to Moderator
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ok here is there site with the patch,which may remove it.

also,what i can find in links that may have info. make sure you read everything carefully so your cpu won't get effed up. before doing so i suggest backing up whatever you can.

http://cp.sonybmg.com/xcp/english/uninstall.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extended_Copy_Protection

http://www.sysinternals.com/blog/2005/11/sony-you-dont-reeeeaaaally-want-to_09.html

http://www3.ca.com/securityadvisor/pest/pest.aspx?id=453096365

these are the top 4 results when you google "how to remove XCP"

Good luck! May the force be with you...

Revision History (2 edits; 1 reasons shown)
theprodigalson  -  December 9th, 2005, 9:48am
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BigBadBrian
Posted: December 9th, 2005, 10:07am Report to Moderator
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Who didn't see this coming?
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theprodigalson
Posted: December 9th, 2005, 10:19am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from BigBadBrian
Who didn't see this coming?


Those that got the Cds
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W
Posted: December 9th, 2005, 12:42pm Report to Moderator
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If the group Switchfoot of BMG Canada the ones who distribute these to us knew I'd f'in kill them... I'll send you a picture of my face or look at my myspace.com account and you'll see how weird I really am.

BMG Canada is a second rate hack job company anyway so i would expect nothing better but the group Switchfoot should be ashamed that their CD has this on it. I shall go to their official website hopefully they have a contact or message board so i can give them a piece of my mind.

Luckily I have no clue who most of those other groups are.


Practice safe lunch: Use a condiment.
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R.E._Freak
Posted: December 9th, 2005, 12:49pm Report to Moderator
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Switchfoot was actually quite furious over the fact that their CD was used for this program. So much so in fact that theirs was one of the first to be officially pulled from shelves and replaced.
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R.E._Freak
Posted: December 9th, 2005, 1:07pm Report to Moderator
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Some Updates:

As another interesting note, the files would also not work on the Apple iPod. Apple is major competition for Sony, so that looks like a pretty obvious attack. So, Sony has decided that they're not going to play fair. I thought there were laws to make sure companies could compete in a fair and balanced marketplace? Isn't this was Microsoft is always getting into trouble for? If nothing else, they should be investigated for this as well. I don't care what they say, I have never had any trouble loading files into iTunes for upload to my iPod. They can say what they want, personally I think it's just them trying to divert attention from their own actions and lay blame on someone else entirely.

-----------------------

Mere weeks after having announced that they had released the discs in the US only, over 120,000 units in Canada are confirmed to have the XCP program. Sony is doing a real bad job of keeping track of things. Each week there seems to be something new contradicting their official statements. Where is the next batch going to pop up?
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R.E._Freak
Posted: December 9th, 2005, 2:03pm Report to Moderator
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I went into an HMV near campus today and looked around. I found three discs on the shelves with the Sun variant of the program. I asked a couple of the employees there and was told that they were working on phasing out all discs with the program. So, ten days short of one month from the Canadian recall date and there are still copies of these discs on the shelves. Most of the employees didn't have a clue about what I was talking about, many didn't even know about the recall or even the XCP program included on the discs. One did, though, he's the one who managed to answer my questions. From the looks of it they're getting to it, but not very fast.

So, why is this? Well, do you honestly think that retailers are going to pull these things from shelves less than a month before Christmas, the single largest shopping season of the retail year? Not a chance in hell. Why pull them and face the resulting losses when you can sell them. Once they're in consumer hands they become Sony's problem, every unit sold costs Sony money to replace for both production and shipping.
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Antemasque
Posted: December 9th, 2005, 4:05pm Report to Moderator
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Welcome To The Suck.
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R.E._Freak
Posted: December 9th, 2005, 4:43pm Report to Moderator
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I must admit, this whole thing has gotten me quite interested. Because, you know, I have nothing else to do. I'll keep updating as I find out stuff.
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W
Posted: December 10th, 2005, 4:56am Report to Moderator
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This has gotten me really pissed and I found out that Switchfoot do have a message board and guess what it says at the top... SONY.

I'm not joining the board as a piece of my mind would probably breach some rule they have on the message boards but if they replaced the discs I would not have this problem.

I guess I will format my hard drive. Hey would any of you guys happen to know if this problem will stay if I keep my C drive with all my files as a backup folder inside my new C drive after I format it?

They have an option that allows you to basically create a folder where it keeps your whole C drive and you can go in take your game saves, files what have you that's in it but I wonder if this garbage will just transfer itself over if I keep those folders.


Practice safe lunch: Use a condiment.
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